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Butler or Cupbearer

BUTLER or CUPBEARER. These two Eng. terms are one in Heb., מַשְׁקֶה, H5482. The term butler is used in the Joseph story, but cupbearer is used of Solomon’s officials, and is the term in Nehemiah’s writings. In Genesis 40:2 it is the chief butler of Pharaoh and in Genesis 40:21 it is said that this chief butler actually put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand. The literal meaning of the Heb. is “one who gives another a drink.” These Egyp. cupbearers seem to have been of various rating and some were of high political power. The tomb paintings of Egypt show these officials at work.

Under Solomon this office of cupbearer was very important, for the cupbearers highly impressed the Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10:5). Nehemiah speaks of himself as cupbearer to King Artaxerxes and Nehemiah “took up the wine and gave it to the king” (Neh 1:11; 2:1). After this the king had a serious conversation involving new political action. Therefore that office of cupbearer was a highly influential one. The international nature of the Pers. court is seen in this high elevation of a member who came from even a small conquered nation.